John Carter is the incredibly silly big screen adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs science fantasy novel Princess of Mars.
The title character is a Virginian civil war veteran who after discovering an alien amulet finds himself transported to Mars. You would think this would be a shock to the system but he accepts this with unusual calm. Strangely equipped with superhuman agility and strength, Carter is thrust into a battle between two Martian kingdoms both of whom look remarkably like ancient Romans. Carter also befriends a tribe of 12 foot tall green aliens called the Tharks who seem to be cousins of the Jar Jar Binkses. Despite being on Mars, Carter also happens to find a hot looking scantily clad Princess who instantly falls for him.
This film commits all the cardinal sins of the modern sci if action movie: all the monsters are sinewy, jerky loping cgi creations, there’s plenty of inconsistent toughness as carter is superhuman one minute and piss weak the next and most of the characters speak in the generic pompous British accent that seems to pervade alien and fantasy worlds.
The amusingly named Taylor Kitsch brings to the lead role all the versatility and Neanderthal charm of Channing Tatum. Hearing him talking about weird alien place names such as Zedanga and Barsoom in his broad monotone American accent is hilarious. Respected actors such as the Wire’s Dominic West don’t fare much better with the film’s leaden dialogue. Particularly amusing is the sight of British actor Mark Strong – who normally does edgy working-class hard men – playing a floating, bald-headed demi-god in a smock. Lynn Collins as the Martian Princess looks stunning and matches the boys in the swashbuckling action scenes but unfortunately she also has some of the worst dialogue in the film.
To be fair John Carter moves at a decent pace, keeps the action flowing and contains some intriguing looking Martian landscapes but it’s just not enough. They just can’t seem to get these sci-fi fantasy films right, there’s so much great potential with a wealth of literature to draw on and a movie-going market hungry for a decent film in this genre but they insist on cranking out stupid, unintentionally funny action slop.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Release date: 8th March 2012
Running time: 132 minutes
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